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Tisi Benvenuto called Garofalo

(Garofalo or Ferrara 1476 - Ferrara 1559)

This work, which entered the collection at the end of the eighteenth century, reveals the influence of Raphael’s Roman painting, reformulated through the style of Giulio Romano. The composition copies that of the Lamentation painted in 1530 for the church of San Francesco in Argenta (now in Munich), softening its high drama with a more academic style.

Object details

1525 circa
oil on panel
cm 54 x 41

Borghese collection, acquired by the sculptor Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, 1787. Documented in the Inv. 1790, room II, no. 17; Inventario fidecommissario Borghese 1833, p. 10, no. 28. Purchased by the Italian state, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1874 Pietro Principi (?)
  • 1903 Luigi Bartolucci (pest control)
  • 1978 Gianluigi Colalucci
  • 2020, Measure3D di Danilo Salzano (laser scan 3D).
  • 2020, Erredicci(diagnostics)
  • 2020, IFAC-CNR (diagnostics)
  • 2020-2021, ArsMensurae di Stefano Ridolfi (diagnostics)


This work, purchased in 1787 by the sculptor and collector Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, entered the Borghese collection later than the other Ferrara school paintings.

The overall lyricism of the scene is expressed through the increasingly dramatic gestures and expressions of the people surrounding the body of Christ, resting on a sudarium and laid upon a rock – the angular position of which recalls the line in the book of Psalms ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’ (118:22), which is cited by Christ in the ‘Parable of the Wicked Tenants’ (Mark 12:10; Matthew 21:42; Luke 20:17). The onlookers are placed before a two-part background, where we see the entrance to the tomb in shadow in the left and Golgotha on the right, with a miniature scene of the Deposition, indicating the moment prior to the scene in the foreground, completing the narrative.

The figures traditionally included in the Lamentation are joined here by three others on the far left: a bishop saint, recognisable by his gold-embroidered white mitre and lavish cope, the penitent St Jerome, beating his chest with a stone and, in front of them, in the shadows next to Joseph of Arimathea, a figure with highly distinctive features, suggesting that it is the portrait of the patron, to whom the previous two figures in all likelihood refer.

Some art historians have questioned the attribution to Garofalo (Platner 1842, De Rinaldis 1948), while others, following in the footsteps of Adolfo Venturi (1893), Roberto Longhi (1928) and Paola Della Pergola (1955), hold that the painting is in fact autograph, although they differ as to the position of the work within the artist’s oeuvre. The early research (Venturi 1893) dates this Lamentation to the artist’s youth, before 1520, while later scholars see features typical of late Garofalo in the painting (Berenson 1936, Della Pergola 1955). However, the composition of this painting – which repeats the one used by Pietro Perugino in a work painted in 1495 for the convent of Santa Chiara in Florence, now in the Galleria Palatina of Palazzo Pitti (inv. 1912 no. 164), especially in terms of the placement of Christ’s body on the angular stone, the spatial perspective and the empathetic rendering of the figures’ emotions – seems perfectly datable to about 1525, as proposed by Fioravanti Baraldi (1993), and therefore between the cold, rhetorical Deposition in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen - Alte Pinakothek, Munich (inv. WAF 295) and the Resurrection of Lazarus painted for the Vincenzi family’s chapel of the Santissimo Sacramento in the church of San Francesco in Ferrara, now in that city’s Pinacoteca Nazionale (inv. PNFe 153, Brisighella 1700-1735, ed. 1991, p. 307 no. 38).

Lara Scanu

  • E. Platner, Bes Chreibung der Stadt Rom, III.3. Das Marsfeld, die Tiberinsel, Trastevere und der Janiculus, III, Stuttgart 1842, p. 278
  • G. Baruffaldi, Vite de’ pittori e scultori ferraresi, I, Ferrara 1844-1846, p. 364
  • C. Laderchi, La pittura ferrarese, in A. Frizzi, Memorie per la Storia di Ferrara raccolte da Antonio Frizzi, Ferrara 1848 (1856), p. 91
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 125
  • E. G. Gardner, The Painters of the School of Ferrara, London 1911, p. 237
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle gallerie italiane. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928 (ed. 1967), p. 343, n. 205
  • B. Berenson, Pitture italiane del Rinascimento: catalogo dei principali artisti e delle loro opere con un indice dei luoghi, Milano 1936, p. 188
  • P. Della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, n. 55
  • A. M. Fioravanti Baraldi, Benvenuto Tisi da Garofalo tra Rinascimento e Manierismo. Contributo alla catalogazione delle opere dell’artista dal 1512 al 1550, 1976-1977, pp. 61, 141-142
  • A. M. Fioravanti Baraldi, Il Garofalo. Benvenuto Tisi pittore (c. 1476-1559), Rimini 1993, p. 209, n. 140
  • C. Stefani, in Galleria Borghese, a cura di P. Moreno e C. Stefani, Milano 2000, p. 256
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, in Il museo senza confini. Dipinti ferraresi del Rinascimento nelle raccolte romane, a cura di J. Bentini e S. Guarino, Milano 2002, pp. 166-167, scheda 22